AT&T to launch LTE network this summer

AT&T’s new and improved 4G network will be ready for the spotlight later this summer.

The carrier’s LTE (Long Term Evolution) rollout is rolling along just fine, as it announced two devices for the new spectrum in just a couple months.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to have an AT&T LTE phone until a bit later in the year, but these initial devices – which act as portable Internet hotspots – will provide a taste.

Namely, the Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G is a standalone device that when turned on connects to LTE (or 3G if LTE is unavailable) and lets users log into the connection from another device. And the USBConnect Momentum 4G is a cheaper option but must be physically plugged into a computer to power the connection.

These devices will act as a stress test of sorts for the AT&T network, paving the way for LTE-connected phones by the end of the year.

AT&T previously launched what it called a “4G” network, but critics blasted it as nothing more than a small incremental upgrade over its existing 3G data infrastructure.

LTE is widely regarded as the leading 4G standard, and is currently used by Verizon and MetroPCS. The former has been heralded as having the fastest 4G network.

So now the race is on for AT&T. Those wanting to get in on the ground floor will be able to buy the Mobile Hotspot Elevate 4G for $119 or the USBConnect Momentum 4G for $99, with a corresponding new two-year service agreement. Both are also eligible for a $50 mail-in rebate.